If you’re looking for a unique and enchanting destination that’s off the beaten path, check out Little Island. This NYC public park is a hidden gem nestled along the Hudson River. This artificial island offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
LITTLE ISLAND’S INNOVATIVE ARCHITECTURE
One of Little Island’s most distinctive features is the series of concrete pylons holding it up over the Hudson River. This gives the island the feel that it’s floating over the Hudson River, even though it is very well anchored to the base of the river. The pylons were actually inspired by the original piers of Manhattan’s West Side. If you look into the Hudson on the north side of Little Island, you will see remnants of one such pier. The pylons also gave the Heatherwick Studio the flexibility it desired to create a rolling hilly landscape with different ecosystems. The whole space was designed to resemble a floating leaf on the Hudson River.
Little Island’s landscape is divided into four quadrants, each portraying a different topology. Little Island features 35 different tree species and 65 different shrub species, as well as a variety of perennials and grasses. The trees are anchored into the pylons so well that they could actually sustain hurricane force winds! While exploring the four quadrants, make sure to take advantage of the various overlooks for stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. Keep an eye out for a famous fireboat that can be viewed from the overlooks. This is Fireboat 343. It gets its name from the 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. It is a memorial fireboat that honors their legacy.
Parents and children will be especially delighted by “The Glade.” “The Glade” offers concessions (including cocktails) as well as arts and crafts for families and kids. Be warned, “The Glade” on Little Island lacks shade, so wear lots of sunscreen!
HOW A MEDIA MOGUL AND FASHION DESIGNER MADE A FLOATING ISLAND
This unique New York City park was developed by media mogul Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg, who wanted to create a one-of-a-kind space that celebrates the arts and brings people together. They worked in partnership with the Hudson River Park Trust leadership to re-imagine the badly deteriorated Pier 54, and transform it into an urban oasis. Barry Diller is actually quoted on the official Little Island website as saying, “What was in my mind was to build something for the people of New York and for anyone who visits – a space that on first sight was dazzling, and upon use made people happy.”
It was important to Barry Diller that the arts be incorporated into Little Island. He worked with arts leaders and visionaries Scott Rudin, Stephen Daldy, George C. Wolfe, and Kate Horton to integrate theatre, dance, music and more into the space. The result was two outdoor stages, music and visual arts elements woven into Little Island’s architecture, and a wide-range of free arts programming for the public to enjoy. From live music performances and dance shows to outdoor movies and art installations, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. You can catch a theater performance, join a yoga class, or simply relax in the lush green spaces while taking in the panoramic views of the river and the city skyline. The arts programming on Little Island is top-notch, and you’ll be amazed by the creativity and talent on display.
With its innovative design and sustainability features, Little Island is a testament to their vision and commitment to making New York City a more vibrant and inclusive place. There are several sustainable eco-friendly elements incorporated into Little Island. For example, the park focuses on biodiversity. The plants were chosen to attract pollinators. Every tree in NYC absorbs 48 pounds of carbon monoxide from the air. Little Island, when it opened, had over 100 trees! This also helps counteract climate change and protects NYC from the effects of global warming.
As you stroll along the park’s winding pathways and discover its various nooks and crannies, you’ll come across intriguing elements that highlight the park’s history and significance. For example, the park’s amphitheater is named after Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn, who was a close friend of von Fürstenberg. There are also plaques that share interesting facts and anecdotes about the park’s development and the artists and performers who have graced its stages. It’s truly fascinating to learn about the vision and hard work that went into creating this remarkable space.
Little Island is not just a park, it’s an experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Whether you’re a New Yorker looking for a unique outing, or a visitor exploring the city for the first time, this hidden gem is a must-visit destination. Its arts programming, intriguing history, and stunning views make it a true treasure that’s worth discovering. So why wait? Head over to Little Island and get ready to be enchanted by its magic!
HOW TO GET TO LITTLE ISLAND.
Getting to Little Island is a breeze, and you have two great options to choose from. If you’re a fan of public transportation, hop on the subway and take the A, C, E, or L train to 14th Street Station. From there, it’s just a short walk to Pier 55, where Little Island awaits. If you prefer a more scenic route, grab a taxi and enjoy a picturesque ride along the Hudson River Greenway. The views of the river and the skyline are simply breathtaking!
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